Your success is his story
Stu Clark Centre for Entrepreneurship Startup Coach Ben Isakov on igniting entrepreneurship throughout the Asper School of Business and UM
“The first phase is dreaming.”
Ben Isakov, Startup Coach at the Stu Clark Centre for Entrepreneurship, welcomes aspiring entrepreneurs by getting to know the “why” behind their vision.
“We work together and start from dreaming, understanding where you want to be, how you want your life, your business, your startup to feel. It’s the feeling that will move you, and that movement creates momentum.”
Isakov joined the Asper School of Business as a Startup Coach for the Stu Clark Centre for Entrepreneurship at the end of 2023, bringing his years of consulting experience, his eye for systems and his entrepreneurial expertise to UM’s hub for startup success. Supported by and housed at Asper, the Centre is named for esteemed UM alum Stu Clark [BComm (Hons)/76, LLD/11].
For Startup Coach Isakov, entrepreneurship is about dreaming, acting and connecting.
“Entrepreneurship describes the ability to act on an idea,” he explains. “So, you can be an entrepreneur by starting a business, but you can also be an entrepreneur inside your organization, or even here on campus as a student leader.”
The entrepreneurial mindset begins with a spark, and Isakov’s role is to ignite that spark, by protecting it, cultivating it, letting it inspire and leveraging it to generate action. As he notes, the mission of the Stu Clark Centre for Entrepreneurship is to ignite this entrepreneurial spark across UM.
Isakov often begins coaching sessions by asking aspiring entrepreneurs, “why do you do what you do?” hoping to understand the feelings—the dreams—that motivate their startup goals. Isakov carries his own answer to the question on his business card:
Your success is my story.
“I’m a results-driven person,” he says. “When I meet with a student, I think of them as a client, and when my clients succeed, I feel good. I know that I’ve put effort into their success, and I know that they have put in a lot of their own work, and we succeeded.”
It is the collaborative, social necessity of entrepreneurship that moves Isakov, creating momentum for his own goals and the work that inspires him every day. He describes how much he learns on the job, maintaining that his expertise is in business, systems and organizations is key, but that his clients bring their own unique expertise into the room—from baking and coding, to writing and coaching.
More than anything, Isakov’s business card is a reminder that as individualistic as entrepreneurship can seem and sometimes be, there are people whose stories intersect with your success (and your struggle). For Isakov, his partner Nataliya comes to mind.
“She believes in me more than anyone else. She’s always supportive, and she reminds me that I am capable. When imposter syndrome kicks in, she is there. I have her in my corner, letting me lean back a little bit.
“Business, and more than that, entrepreneurship can be a lonely path. We are often leading a lot of work ourselves, and we don’t want to unload all the struggles on the people we love. But someone who you can look at and see their belief in your goals, that’s a huge support.”
It’s this belief, this support, that Isakov hopes to offer students and community members as a Startup Coach, drawing on his expertise, his commitment to fostering success and his ability to start with dreaming.
Even in a short interview, Isakov shares all kinds of advice that sticks, from “eating the frog first” to the hidden value of procrastination, but ultimately his approach to coaching, like entrepreneurship, is collaborative, social and transformative. There is not a one-size-fits-all approach to entrepreneurship – it’s a relationship, a spark, a give and take, and a practice of community-building. To see for yourself, make an appointment with Ben Isakov today and start dreaming.
The Asper School of Business offers entrepreneurship courses for students from any UM Faculty and degree program. As an example, ENTR 2020: Starting a New Business, helps students assess the challenges and opportunities of starting a business of their own and increase their understanding of what it takes to succeed in an entrepreneurial career. Students explore proven methods of entrepreneurial thinking, as the entrepreneurial mindset is one of the most powerful skills and professional assets regardless of career path.
As Startup Coach, Ben Isakov is available to meet with UM students and community members one-on-one to guide them through any stage of their entrepreneurial journey. Startup coaching is part of a full spectrum of educational, experiential and community-building programming offered by the Stu Clark Centre for Entrepreneurship. Book a meeting with Ben Isakov today or visit the Stu Clark Centre for Entrepreneurship at the Drake Centre.